Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Big Apple

Apple Berry Crumble
I recently enjoyed a fun opportunity to get out of the city and go apple picking in upstate New York.

On a sunny, brisk Saturday morning the husband and I, some good friends, and a whole gaggle of kids met on a Manhattan street corner, loaded into a 15-passenger van and set out for the 60 minute drive. Not only did we enjoy eating our fill of crisp apples right off the tree, but a fair share of hot apple-cider donuts as well.

At the orchard.
We arrived home with a generous portion of orchard-fresh apples and I have been chomping-at-the-bit to make this recipe! If only you could smell my house tonight! I have a candle called "Apple Crumble" that I (ironically) was about to light until I realized, 'Hey the real deal is in the oven!'

I've been making this Apple Berry Crumble for several years now tweaking and modifying along the way. I think I have it about as close to perfect as you can get, guaranteeing that you will have a crowd-pleaser that never disappoints. Enjoy!
Apple Berry Crumble
Cast of Characters: Apples, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon, berries, walnuts, flour, sugar, butter or margarine.

Mix select ingredients together for topping. Work softened butter through with fork so that everything is coated evenly.

Peel, core and cut apples.

Mix together filling.
Layer ingredients in a buttered baking dish. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Warm apple goodness!
Pumpkins sunning at the farm.
Actual Recipe: Apple Berry Crumble Joy of Baking
Nail Color: OPI "Keep me on my Mistletoes" 

I've attempted several times to make this dish "healthier" and every time it has worked great! I've traded out butter for margarine, sugar for Splenda and even a whole grain flour instead of white flour. This recipe is a classic that will be in my family for years. What are your Fall recipe staples?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kitchen Sink Chicken


Ain't she a beaut?
When life gives you lemons, you slice them up and shove them up a bird cavity. Isn't that how the phrase goes? 

And not just lemons for that matter but many, many things left in the back of your fridge can be given new life by shoving them IN or UNDER a basic bird. (I really should find a more appealing verb than 'shove' shouldn't I?) 

This roasted chicken recipe is sure to please even the pickiest eaters, while serving as a fun way to use up all the odds and ends left in your pantry. AND if you buy a big enough bird, you can shred the leftovers and freeze for future *Girl From Scratch recipes. Don't be intimidated by a whole bird! I know we get used to just buying breasts and tenderloins at the grocery store, but there is so much flavor and tons of meat on a whole chicken. Not to mention it's way cheaper by the pound than boneless, skinless white meat. Remember: You CAN do it!

For today, I have a bag of limping celery, some dried out carrots and some forgotten fresh herbs that never made it into my well intentioned pesto recipe. Now those are basic roasting ingredients, but I challenge you to really dig and be creative. Got random root vegetables rolling around the bottom of your produce drawer? Got orange marmalade? This can make one of the tastiest chicken glazes I've ever made. One random potato, a yam, a single garlic clove, a parsnip? Fennel? Onion? Some Craisins? That's perfect! You are ready for this Kitchen Sink Roast Chicken recipe.

Kitchen Sink Roast Chicken 

Proof! I wasn't lying about the limping celery, it was on it's last legs.

The leading lady of this production.
Quirky cast of characters:
Upon further exploration I discovered a forgotten sweet potato, an orange and a half a bag of chopped walnuts, hmmmmmm.....this gets me thinking!
I couldn't decide between savory or sweet so I did both! One side: celery, onion, carrot, lemon, garlic and thyme. The other side was yams, craisins, and walnuts tossed in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and orange zest.

Stuffed and prepped for the oven.
Golden brown and crisp to perfection. (This diva bird may or may not have set off the fire alarm to let me know it was finished. Hypothetically speaking, allegedly.....maybe. )
After the husband and I had a fabulous dinner of roasted chicken and sweetly caramelized vegetables, we shredded the rest for future dishes, and bagged the bones for stock. (homemade stock recipe coming soon!)

This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa) Perfect Roast Chicken. Even though I changed around the ingredient list, I used her recipe as my guidepost for temperatures and times. For this recipe the only thing you need to buy at the store is a fresh thawed chicken. The rest of the ingredients should be remnants in your fridge and cupboard. Use this as a way to be thrifty and clear out the good ole' pantry without wasting any grocery money.

The Craisins, sweet potato, walnuts and orange zest made a delicious side dish that's a little out-of-the-box. I'm so excited to hear your ideas! What do YOU have in your pantry that you might try?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Date Shake

Coconut Date Shake
I have to be honest... this weather is making me grumpy. It was 83 degrees in Manhattan on Monday! Ugh. Instead of wearing cute sweaters, boots and jackets, I'm still sweating to death in flip-flops and shorts. Do you know how hard it is to look attractive for an audition when it's hot out? My freshly curled hair falls, my meticulously applied make-up melts and I'm left hot, red-faced and longing for cooler weather. Not to mention all the hearty soups, casseroles and baked goods that are begging to be made when the air turns brisk. Come on Mother Nature, it's October!

Today I'm (yet again) forgoing the Apple Crisp-type recipes that I'm dying to try and serving up a recipe that I wanted to make this summer but forgot about. This creamy, dreamy Coconut Date Shake is a creative alternative to your average smoothie beverage, sweet enough for dessert but healthy enough for breakfast or a snack. That's right folks it was so hot this week that the thought of actually turning on my oven repulsed me, and instead I longed for a refreshing smoothie. The dates and vanilla give it a spicy, warm under-tone that's perfect for a cool warm Fall night. Relax and have a date tonight with a Coconut Date Shake. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Corn Identity

Creamy Polenta with Herb Mushrooms
Right now most food blogs and magazines are bursting with glorious pumpkin, apple and squash recipes. And while I adore all of these ingredients (I actually planned to do an Apple Crumble recipe this week), I decided to do something out-of-the box and try cooking with polenta.